GOP council candidates talk platforms
Topics included information about their relationship with the Republican party, challenger’s involvement with the county, short-term rentals, budget amendment and improvement in schools.
— Republican candidates for Talbot County Council and the state legislature outlined their platforms and answered audience questions during a Thursday forum at the county agricultural center.
The forum included incumbents Jennifer Williams, Corey Pack, Laura Price, Chuck Callahan, and challengers Frank Divilio and Lisa Ghezzi.
First, the candidates introduced themselves to a crowd of an estimated 30 people and added what made them a great candidate for Talbot County Council. Topics included information about their relationship with the Republican party, challenger’s involvement with the county, short-term rentals, budget amendment and improvement in schools.
The topics were moderated by Nicholas Panuzio, chairman of the Talbot County Republican Central Committee.
“It’s a great service to the Republican voters to come out tonight, and ask us questions,” said Williams, “Talbot County has some of the best people working for it that I have ever worked with in my entire life. We are blessed in Talbot County to have the quality of people doing the jobs they do for us each and every day.”
Panuzio first asked the candidates if they had always been Republican; a majority of them said yes. In order to get the challengers’ feet wet, Panuzio asked both Ghezzi and Divilio what organizations they were involved in and passionate about.
The questions then led to the issues including shortterm leases and how they can affect the county both positively and negatively. There are currently 160 registered rentals with only 2-3 rentals with major complaints in Talbot County.
The county is making adjustments to build a stronger short term rental board by hiring a code compliance officer who will assist with the topic. The county also is working with ads on the internet, and part of the requirements is that if you have a short-term property in the county, you have to post your license number in the ads.
Some candidates said they support short term rentals for Talbot County to increase tourism.
The 2013 report, The Economic Impact of Tourism in Maryland, states that in Talbot County, the number of visitors increased by nine percent from 2008 to 2012, with the steadiest gains in day visits; Annual tourism revenues grew to over $170.2 million in 2012, from $157 million in 2008. Tourism generated over 13% of labor income at $55.9 million and 13.8% of all employment with 1,760 jobs.
Councilwoman Price did support it, however, had reservations about it.
“I am for short-term rentals, however, I don’t want this to hurt neighborhoods. That is what we have heard so much is that the people next door to you, you don’t know who they are,” said Price. “I think all of the enforcement things are key because half are licensed and half are not. I think that once we get the enforcement in place, we might actually see the complaints go up because some people might ask, ‘why complain, if there is no enforcement behind it?’ I prefer someone who has roots in Talbot County or part-time. I think collecting that accommodation tax is key.”
The next topic included school funding. Councilman Pack and Callahan wanted the increasing the funding for education because they wanted it to go to the teachers and more resources for the students.
Talbot County schools are funded less than any other school system, over $2000 per student in order for the county to come to the midpoint in the entire state. Talbot County would have to add nine million dollars in the school boards budget, which would rank them in the middle, something Williams does not want to see for students.
“There is no way we can do that, the school funding formula for the state is out of whack, it’s very convoluted and it penalizes Talbot County,” Williams said. “We get less dollars per student than any other county in the state from the state. The county last year was number five highest county in the state in per pupil funding, and we are still below the bottom of the pack for every other county. It is unfair to penalize our students because the state penalizes them.”
With the topic of education in mind, Mimi Gedaumu introduced herself as a candidate running for the 37B delegate seat. She followed the sentiment from the Talbot County candidates when it comes to the education system with a mission for improvement, if elected.
“I’m from the Eastern Shore and I am proud to be a part of the Eastern Shore,” said Gedamu. “I want to build a future children could be proud of; and teachers and parents are the most important people when it comes to educating our kids.”
Incumbent Del. Johnny Mautz (R-37B-Talbot) also appeared at the forum stating the importance of reelecting him for his post. “Nobody works harder and nobody cares more.”
The primary election will be held June 26, with early voting June 14 to 21. The general election is Nov. 6, with early voting from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1.
For more information about the candidates’ contact information and social media platforms, log onto the Talbot County Election Board website at http:// www.talbotcountymd.gov/
Mimi Gedamu, Republican candidate for 37B delegate, listens to candidates speak during the Republican forum on Thursday.
From left, Talbot County Council candidate Lisa Ghezzi, councilwoman Laura Price, candidate Frank Divilio, councilman Chuck Callahan, vice-president Corey Pack and president Jennifer Williams at the Republican Forum on Thursday.
The forum is moderated by Talbot County Republican Central Committee Chairman Nicholas Panuzio.